On this course you will journey through the bold granite Mahoosuc Mountains and the picturesque and historic Rangeley Lakes of Western Maine. It is an expedition. You will depart the base camp on the first or second day of the course and not return until the end. You will carry what you need for as much as a week in your backpack and you will hike, paddle or climb nearly every day.
Arriving physically fit will enhance your experience and ability to do well on the course and ultimately allow you to take full advantage of the expedition. You do not need to have previous backpacking or canoeing experience. We will teach you everything you need to know to travel comfortably, including how to pack a backpack, maneuver a canoe, set up a wilderness campsite, rock climb and navigate using a map and compass.
When your course begins you will get a basic introduction to backcountry travel and Leave No Trace techniques, and then you will quickly journey into the wilderness where the real magic takes place.
Youth Courses (ages 14-16)
Students enrolled on a youth course are in for an adventure specifically designed for this age group. We know that younger teens represent a diverse group. For some students, Outward Bound is their first time away from home; others are veteran travelers who have attended Outward Bound before.
We plan youth courses to set students up for success no matter where they are starting on the spectrum of wilderness experience. Students on youth courses typically face mental, social and physical challenges that are specific to their age group. Through more structured days with clear expectations, these courses are designed to meet those needs most appropriately.
You will canoe in the upper reaches of the Androscoggin Watershed. The Androscoggin is fed by Aziscohos Lake, the Magalloway River and the Rangeley Lakes: Cupsuptic, Mooselookmeguntic, the Richardsons and Rangeley. Indigenous Abenaki peoples used the Androscoggin as both a means of transportation between winter habitats inland, summer living on the coast, and as a source of food.
After Europeans arrived, the Androscoggin River was used to move logs to mills downstate during the logging boom of the 19th century. These days, expanses of the region are protected for recreation and the lakes and rivers are used primarily by canoeists, fisherman and other recreationalists. Your journey will likely involve some portaging (carrying the canoe upside down on your shoulders), the traditional means of moving boats and gear from one body of water to another. Some of the portages you may encounter have been in use for centuries, such as along the Rapid River.
Your backpacking course area will be the mountains of Western Maine and Northern New Hampshire in one or more of the following areas: the White Mountain National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, the Carter-Mahoosuc Range, the Grafton Loop Trail or in the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness. These spruce-fir and hardwood forests are home to hundreds of species of birds as well as moose, deer and black bear. Rock climbing instruction will take place at one of many granite cliffs you encounter along your expedition route. Most of this hiking terrain is protected from development and offers both pristine and established camping, rushing waterfalls, twisting streams and spectacular views from rocky summits.
Your course focuses on wilderness expedition skills. In the mountains, you will learn map reading, cooking, how to pack and adjust your pack, foot care, hydration, knots and, most importantly, leadership and teamwork. Backpacking is a great combination of team and individual elements.
The mountains of Maine are rugged, wooded, and will at times be muddy and steep, making it necessary to “spot” and coach each other through difficult terrain. In some areas you will travel on wilderness footpaths; in others, you will navigate off trail. You will likely reach mountain peaks where, if the weather cooperates, you will be rewarded with spectacular views.
Living and traveling with just what you can carry on your back is a simple existence, in which small choices can make deceptively great differences. To live well in the outdoors, all crew members must share the chores that turn a camp into a home, including setting up tents and tarps, making a kitchen area, taking a turn fetching water and cooking satisfying meals.
Part of your course will be focused on learning wilderness canoe expedition skills. You will canoe on lakes and rivers, learning paddle strokes such as the J-stroke, draw and pry. You will likely learn the skills of portaging (carrying the canoe on your shoulders), and lining (guiding your canoe down unrunnable rapids) as you travel through some of the amazing waterways of Maine. In learning to work and communicate well with your paddling partner each day you will discover the power of two people truly working together.
To travel between lakes, your group will work together as a team to carry packs and canoes over the trail that link the waterways. Portage trails are rugged and often rocky or hilly. They vary in length from 10 yards to a half-mile or longer. The group will decide how to sensibly and safely distribute portaging responsibilities.
Pack weight varies, depending on the amount and weight of personal gear that you and your partner choose to bring on course. Personal packs weigh at least 40 pounds and sometimes considerably more. In addition, your group will carry several heavier packs loaded with food and equipment; these packs weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. The canoes weigh up to 80 pounds.
During your course you will spend a day rock climbing on one of this area's many granite cliffs, known locally as “Little Bear,” “Bald,” “Table Rock,” and “Square Ledges.” You will learn to use climbing equipment, tie knots, climb and belay each other, while instructors provide overall supervision of the site. Climbing gives you a chance to practice your balance, coordination, flexibility and grace on the rock. You will learn jamming, smearing, mantling, and many other climbing techniques.
With sufficient food and equipment, you will set up camp at a secluded site on your own for one or two days, depending on the length of the course. Your solo site is chosen to offer as much solitude as possible, yet be within hearing distance of other group members. You will not travel during this time and will be alone, except for when your instructors check on you occasionally. The solitude and break from the fast pace of your expedition allows for rest and personal reflection, which is necessary to make the most of your experience.
Outward Bound believes that an appropriate amount of independence is a powerful educational tool. In order to deliver that benefit, Outward Bound purposefully and gradually transfers certain leadership responsibilities to the students, starting with Training Expedition, then Main Expedition, and culminating with our Final Expedition.
Near the end of course, if you and your group have demonstrated the necessary leadership, team problem solving and wilderness living skills, you may be given the opportunity to travel without your instructors participating in the routine decision making.
Students on courses designed for 16 and older may travel without instructors immediately present (although they will be checking in periodically) for one to four days, depending on course length. Many of our students tell us this phase of the course is the most rewarding, as the group learns to work together, solve problems, and accomplish a goal independently, utilizing all the skills they have acquired.
Service is an integral part of the Outward Bound curriculum. We encourage service to the environment in the form of practicing Leave No Trace ethics throughout the course. We coordinate service projects with local land managers (US Forest Service, Maine Bureau of Public Lands, Dept. of Conservation, local land trusts, etc.) as well as with select social service agencies (nursing homes, hospitals, etc.). During your course, you will have the opportunity to participate in at least one service project.
Final Challenge Event
We typically end our courses with a Final Challenge Event—an individual final physical push. This might take the form of a run or a triathlon activity.
To apply for this course click the apply button next to the course dates that work for you. The non-refundable application fee of $125 is due at the time of application. Full course tuition and in-course transportation fee are due within 60 days of course start date. Course tuitions listed do not include our application fee or transportation fee. You can also call one of our expert Admissions Advisors at 866-467-7651.